08 December 2016

What Melbourne loved in 2016, part 6ters

Part sixters is all Sixters Grimm. Where would we be without them?

Declan Greene
Resident Artist, Malthouse Theatre; and lots of other things

Declan Greene in rehearsal for Lilith. Photo by Deryk McAlpin

DG's favourite moments in Melbourne theatre in 2016: I spent a lot of this year very anxious about the dwindling support for independent artists. In particular those early career artists who missed out on the brief flourish of Heliums and NEONs and Downstairs Belvoirs and Wharf 2s that kick-started the careers of a lot of my friends. (And that was before the additional two-handed-fistfuck of NPEA/Catalyst and everything it ripped away from the small-to-medium sector).

So my favourite moments happened every time I saw early-career artists making incredible work in total defiance of the mess they've been plonked in.

Of these moments, my favourite-est was probably Embittered Swish's Our Lady Of The Flowers, an excavation of Jean Genet's novel, created by a phenomenal team of trans and non-binary artists led by Mick Klepner Roe (this was Mick's graduating piece from the VCA directing course). It seemed to exist in a state of constant slippage. A dream-like space where where gender, performer/character identity and temporality were in constant flux, and a thread of dark eroticism and violence pulsed beneath every fluctuation. The cast were uniformly exceptional, and there were moments that took my breath away: a horror-tinged monologue by Cinnamon Templeton about hormone therapy plus a sweating, pig-like doctor;  the visceral, driving sound design by Romy Seven. It wasn't a perfect work, but it felt daring, thrilling, and genuinely original in a way few art does.

In addition to this, I completely heart-and-soul loved Ian Michael and She Said Theatre's HARTKaty Warner's A Prudent Man, Mama Alto's Extravaganza, The Very Good Looking Initiative's CULL and there are probably a million others I'm forgetting, but those were some of 'em.

What DG is looking forward to in Melbourne theatre in 2017: Finally seeing Ash Flanders's Playing To Win. Cuz he's a genius, duh.

And I'm super-biased, but pretty much the entire Malthouse 2017 season has me imploding with excitement: The Encounter, The Black Rider, Wild Bore, and Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again and more and more and more. Seriously, its all so good.

SM: Lilith, the Jungle Girl was something else (co-written and directed by Declan) and there was The Listies in Hamlet:Prince of Skidmark (written by Declan), which I went to Sydney to see. This gave me a brilliant afternoon with my niece and nephew (this was their first theatre show!) and, side-splitting Listies performances aside, was easily the most astute adaption of Hamlet I've seen. I was thrilled that the first Ophelia my niece saw was a super hero who took charge of her life instead of giving all of her emotion to a boy who wasn't worth her time.

But favourite moment was Declan talking about how mid-career artists should choose an emerging artist and mentor them because a lot of the opportunities that these mid-career artists had no longer exist.

Ash Flanders
home owner, still skinny, power bottom


Ash Flanders. Photo by Sarah Walker. Slight improvements by Jeff Miller, Photoshop and the Jim Henson archive

AF's favourite moments in Melbourne theatre in 2016: Without a doubt my favourite theatrical moment in 2016 was anything Dave said or did – or mimed – in Trigger Warning. Zoe Coombs Marr has created a metatextual behemoth that captivates and terrifies audiences in the most brilliant way possible. I have never laughed as hard as I did the night I saw that show. It's too bad she's already married to Rhys Nicholson, because I'd love to be her husband/wife/significant otter ...  and then steal all her ideas.

I know it's only meant to be one thing but I can't miss a chance to talk about Anti-Hamlet. This was my first time seeing Mark Wilson's work and I was utterly blown away by the singularity of his voice. This freudian fantasia – mixed with Australian politics, queer theory and Shakespeare – was chock-full of dense, meaty ideas and concepts; I don't remember any other show in 2016 making me think quite as much as that show did.

And OMG this just reminded me that this was the year I saw The Listies in Hamlet: Prince of Skidmark! I'll be quick about this but it was certainly worth the day-trip to Sydney and back. These guys made even the most cynical, jaded, bitter power-bottom remember why he ever fell in love with theatre in the first place. I can't wait to catch The Listies Ruin Xmas this month!

(I'd also like to mention my favourite onstage moment: looking out at my father as I penetrated myself with the leg of a stool while naked, covered in pink mud and chained to the MTC floor.)

What AF is looking forward to in Melbourne theatre in 2017: Oh god, I know it's beyond shameless to pick Declan because he's clearly going to pick me, but in all honesty The Homosexuals, or Faggots is what I'm most looking forward to. Because, duh, I like his writing a lot! I've heard bits of it and am already considering what outfit to wear when I picket the theatre with my other outraged, middle-class gay brethren. Personally I'm also looking forward to working with a band for the first time in Playing to Win and hopefully making more of my webseries Friendly with Peter Paltos (www.facebook.com/friendlywebseries).

SM: It's a tough choice for Ash this year: kittie onsie or nude and covered in pink goo? Nup, can't decide which was better.

I'm going to watch Friendly asap (cos I adore Peter P).

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